Google’s chief engineer made a statement about guest blogging that freaked out the entire blogging and SEO community. Matt Cutts said that “stick a fork in guest blogging – it is dead.” Many people panicked when they heard Cutt’s recent statement. He made some very valid points, but there is no reason to freak out over them. Here are some things that you should take his words with a grain of salt.
His Concern is Spam
Cutt’s headline sounds very hyperbolic. You would think he was saying that guest blogging is a terrible practice that should never be used. However, when you actually digest the content you see that isn’t what he meant at all. Here are his exact words:
if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company
Cutts then shows a “guest blogging request” email from someone that is very spammy.
I certainly understand where Cutts is coming from here. Guest blogging has been used by a lot of shady SEO linkbuilders. There are companies that hire writers that clearly don’t write good English to write their posts for them. There are even writers that use article spinners to create dozens of versions of a single article and submit it to many different websites. There are also plenty of people that use heavily anchored links or links that aren’t even relevant to the content.
Should spammy guest bloggers stop what they are doing? Absolutely. I am sure Google is going to start hammering them hard in the near future. However, that doesn’t mean that legitimate guest bloggers need to stop what they are doing. Cutts even said that guest blogging used to be a respectable thing before being overtaken by spammers. I agree and disagree with him on this point. The truth is that while there are a lot of crappy spammers out there, there are also plenty of excellent guest bloggers that add real value to the blogosphere.
Cutts Clarified that All Guest Blogging Isn’t Bad
Cutts realized that he freaked a lot of people out when he made his statement. A lot of commentors replied that guest blogging is a still a decent idea. Cutts updated his post to state that guest blogging isn’t bad. He said that the problem was guest blogging for SEO purposes.
There is really nothing wrong with using guest blogging to help improve your SEO presence. There is no reason to avoid guest blogging altogether. The problem is when you start using it purely as a way to build links.
Any spammy linkbuilding strategy should be avoided. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to stop linkbuilding altogether. Every website owner needs to build links to boost their SEO. When done properly, guest blogging is one of the most legitimate linkbuilding techniques.
Google’s Business Depends on Fear of SEO
Matt Cutts and other experts from Google have always been trying to scare people from doing things related to SEO. Cutts has certainly shared some great tips, but he and the rest of the Google Team do go overboard with their warnings. Why would they do that?
There are two reasons that Google wants to scare away SEOs. The first is the one people usually talk about. Google wants to provide the highest quality search results for people. Clever SEOs can make their job a lot harder, because they can sometimes trick Google into ranking companies on the front page when they aren’t the most relevant to a search term.
However, there is another reason that Google wants to bully SEOs.
Most people forget that Google is a business. It’s primary revenue source is advertisements. The company needs to convince companies to buy its ads to stay in business. They wouldn’t be able to stay in business if everyone was ranking in the organic search results for their most desirable keywords. They are pretty good at keeping spammy sites from ranking, but there are always some that slip through the cracks. They need to try to scare people from doing anything related to SEO, but they won’t come right out and say that. Most likely they will try to stop people from using strategies that clearly work.
An Algorithm Probably Can’t Identify a Guest Post
There is another reason that people need to take Google’s words with a grain of salt. It is very unlikely that Google can tell the difference between a guest post or any other article.
Far too many people think that Google is some kind of omniscient god. They think they need to burn goats at the foot of an oracle to atone for their sins if their SEO rankings drop. Google certainly uses one of the most sophisticated algorithms in the world. However, it is still just an algorithm. The chances that it can tell an algorithm can tell that the content is a guest post are probably not very high, especially if the blogger didn’t use terms like “guest post” or have a “Write for Us” page.
The algorithm is most likely just capable of evaluating the quality of the content (which is very subjective to a computer) and unnatural patterns in it. A low quality guest post that is filled with spammy looking links if probably going to send the same red flag to Google that any other suspicious post would. The issue is that guest posts written by SEO freelancers are probably more likely to have unnatural looking links and keywords in it if the blogger doesn’t edit it beforehand.
Whether you are a publisher or guest blogger, you shouldn’t be scared about publishing a guest post. Your concerns should be the same as any other article:
- Focus on quality content
- Make sure the links are to relevant sites
- Make sure that the anchor text looks natural
As long as you follow these rules you should be fine.
What is the Future of Guest Blogging?
Will Google start making some changes to its algorithm to target guest post spam? Probably. However, those changes will probably affect all kinds of other articles with paid or otherwise unnatural looking links as well, so you shouldn’t expect that avoiding guest blogging is going to help anyways.
I do think that you should be very careful about the way you implement your guest blogging strategy from here on. It is worth repeating that there is nothing wrong with building links. You just need to be careful to make sure that your links don’t look spammy. My takeaway from Matt Cutt’s recent post would be:
If you are using weird looking anchor texts, writing low quality content, publishing on content farms or linking to sites that have nothing to do with your posts then you should definitely stop.
If you are focusing on guest blogging to promote your brand first and worry about SEO last then you should be just fine.
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